Tag Archives: Michelle Obama

The Mess We’re Making

I shake my head a lot at current events. There are things happening in this world that don’t make sense to me. Many of these happenings I can’t and won’t ever understand. Yet, they still make me wonder and cause me angst.

I’m sure the world has experienced this before. However, in my almost 30 years of existence, this is my first, front row seat to it. The world I see is very black or white, both figuratively and literally. Whether it be race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation and list continues, we don’t want to listen to each other, let alone respect each other.

It all seems very one-sided: I’m right because I’m _________. You’re wrong because you’re _________. When people hear someone identify as ______, they make a world of assumptions. A personal example: I am Catholic, I go to Mass on Sundays, don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent and pray often. I’ve experienced sharing this and others making an almost immediate assumption that I believe a whole swirl of ideas that I don’t personally agree with. Before I can even share this, I was dismissed. This person doesn’t know a thing about me, my faith or what I believe and don’t believe.

Now multiply that by the 327 million Americans walking around like this. No wonder we have these types of problems on our hands. We all do it, it’s part of our wiring as humans. The trick is to cultivate an awareness around what you’re doing, which ultimately means slowing down to participate in dialogue. When was the last time you have a constructive (not necessary positive) conversation with someone whose identity is different (and maybe you don’t agree with it) than yours? Make that your mission over this holiday weekend.

I’m surrounded by extraordinary individuals, whose experiences are much different than mine. I personally feel like that counts for something and still feel like there are more perspectives out there for me to learn about (there always will be). I also know that if I didn’t take the time to get to know these life-changing humans, I would have dismissed them because we’re more different than alike or because they once said something that I didn’t agree with. I’m shaking my own head as I type.

These issues are complex and deep rooted. I’m not suggesting that

  1. I understand all of the dimensions to these challenges
  2. I’m an expert – just a woman sharing her perspective
  3. I’ve gotten it right – believe me, writing this was a serious reflection about times when I got this so, so wrong. Can’t get stuck there.
  4. talking to each out and listening more will fix everything. But to quote Michelle Obama, “it’s hard to hate up close.”

I don’t have a nice, neat, bulleted list on what to do next. Stay curious – ask questions, start conversations and be open/responsive when people engage with you. Try new things because you’ll likely meet people who aren’t like you. If you want to see a change in this world, start by looking within and then accept that for change to occur, you’ll need to be uncomfortable.

Find Your Church

You know the phrase: Don’t talk about religion or politics are the dinner table. Well, I enjoy challenging rules and this technically isn’t 1) a dinner table or 2) a post solely about religion.

I’m sure most of us have experienced how the word religion and the word church can be triggers for people. I know when I say I’m Catholic and attend Mass regularly, I get a range of interesting reactions. Shock, amazement, admiration and disgust are a few I’ve seen on people’s faces recently. It’s a personal topic for sure, but if we don’t talk to each other about it, how will we really know what we each believe? I’d argue that organized religion is one form of church.

In the last three years or so, I’ve reconnected with my Catholic faith. The catalyst for this was my sister’s Confirmation as I was her sponsor. I’m grateful that opportunity arose so I could examine my belief system. Yes, I go to church most Sundays, I don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent and I get ashes on Ash Wednesday. Does it mean I believe everything the Catholic Church preaches? Nope, not one bit.

One size does not fit all when it comes to church. I got to Mass on Sundays as a form of meditation and to express gratitude for the beautiful life I’ve been given. It’s not the only form of church I participate in. Listening to Jen Hatmaker earlier in the Fall and similarly, listening to Michelle Obama last night, I felt connected to something bigger than myself. That, to me, is going to church. It’s about connecting to a higher power and having your faith restored in some capacity.

Becoming

Faith, hope, love and peace are somewhat abstract concepts. Yet, when I go to church, whichever kind it is, I can feel and even embody those words. I am repented, I am renewed and I am ready. It’s a part of my spiritual well-being that must be replenished so I can show up each day at 100%. It also helps to build my resilience muscle so when things do go wrong, I have a place where I can draw strength from. It’s powerful and necessary in my life.

No one should tell you what or who to believe in. AND there is something powerful and almost magically about faith. It gets you through the toughest situations and brings peace. Faith, much like church, can be found anywhere within anyone at anytime. You just need to be paying attention and open to receiving it as a gift.

Regardless of how you were raised, I encourage you to pause and reflect on your spiritual well-being. How do you renew in that space? What does going to church look like to you? It only matters what you think and where you find faith, hope, love and peace. Remember, there’s no right answer and it can be a combination of places, people or things.

Standing in the Sun

Happy International Day of the Girl! This post felt right to share today.

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Pennsylvania Conference for Women. I got to be in the same room as female icons like Shonda Rhimes, Carla Harris, Brene Brown and Michelle Obama, to name a few. I can’t really put into words what it was like to listen to these women. I left feeling inspired, motivated and humbled.

Shonda

Yes, that’s Shonda signing my book

Every single speaker (male or female) at the conference mentioned self-care, self-confidence and celebration of self! Carla Harris and Brene Brown really drove home these points (Google them right now). Carla’s opening keynote set the tone for the day: “Do not dim your light for someone else’s convenience, celebrate your successes, don’t hide them.” Later in the afternoon, Brene Brown reminded us that we’ll never belong if we don’t believe we deserve to. She highlighted qualities like bravery, authenticity and vulnerability as ones that will help women have a seat at the table. Sidenote: If you haven’t seen Brene’s TedTalk on vulnerability, stop reading and watch it now. This woman is the best therapist I’ve ever had and we’ve never met!

I felt the conference and my head was spinning. So many thoughts. But there was one word that kept coming up for me: WHY?! Why do we need powerful women shouting messages about owning your power and finding your authentic voice? Why do we as women undermine our intelligence, shrink into the background and forget that we have this utterly brilliant power inside of us. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!

I don’t know exactly why. But I do know more women fit the bill for the above then not. Michelle Obama talked about how important it is to give girls a voice from a young age, to let them be heard and to respect them. Both parents need to do this, not just moms. So, if I use myself as an example, I had parents who did this AND a mom who taught me the words to ‘You Don’t Own Me’ by age 7. So what gives?

The female brains are wired differently or at least that’s my hypothesis. We have to rewire our brain and the younger we start, the better we’ll be. So how? Stand in the sun. Standing in the sun is a phrase I’m borrowing from the Shonda Rhimes’ show Scandal. In short, Olivia Pope is going to live on an island with the super handsome Jake Ballard. She’s going to stand in the sun without a care in the world.

I’d like to offer that we women need to stand in the sun every single day. Alone. In our power all along power. You stand in that sun, you feel the rays hit your face and feel how empowering it is. Obviously, not every day will be sunny. You will have moments of darkness. But bring yourself back. Keep reminders of moments when you felt your own greatness. When you nailed a presentation. Or when you tried a new class at the gym. Whatever, wherever, whenever. Post pictures of these moments. Write ‘Own it rockstar’ on your bathroom mirror. Find a way to keep it top of mind.

You will get feedback, that’s part of life. It’s necessary for growth, especially in a professional setting. Take it, action on it and move on. Feedback doesn’t mean you’re broken, see it as an opportunity to increase your power. You are capable, strong, fierce and wonderful, exactly how you are right this moment.

My birthday was last month and every September, I think about how I want the next year to look. Lots of introspection and journaling occur usually while listening to my Girl Power playlist. I am taking this year to stand in the sun, to say yes to joy and no to guilt, overthinking and anxiety. Stand in the sun with me, my sisters.

And remind me when I forget it.

 

 

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